Even when you begin changing your eating habits for the better, incorporating cleaner foods and better practices, you can still fall victim to massive carb cravings. Sometimes, we attribute these carb cravings to a lousy day at work or a stressful week of deadlines, but carb cravings can also come from physiological imbalances.

When you feel stress, cortisol, the stress hormone, skyrockets along with your blood sugar. To compensate, your body releases the fat storage hormone, insulin, to help bring your blood sugar back to stable. When that happens, the insulin tends to overcompensate, and your blood sugar dips lower than it should. Your body becomes confused and thinks it needs more energy, and thus, a carb craving is born.

Now that you know this, you can take steps to outsmart your body when it comes to carb cravings. First, you can take steps to reduce your stress or learn healthy coping mechanisms for when it arises. Next, you’ll need to change your eating habits to satisfy those carb cravings without derailing your progress.

Here are a few of my favorite tricks on how to do this…

The Salty Swap. Next time you can’t shake your craving for a crunchy, salty snack like potato chips, go for something that gives you what you want in a healthy way. For example, carrot and celery sticks with a side of hummus will fill you up and fuel you for the next few hours. You can also air-pop popcorn or roast chickpeas, sprinkling each with a little sea salt to fulfill your saltiest desires.

The Sugary Sweet Swap. Sweet tooth at it again? Next time you’re longing for a dessert, trick your brain with something naturally sweet that isn’t full of refined sugars and processed junk. A square of dark chocolate, as long as it’s at least 80% and pure is a satisfyingly indulgent choice that won’t derail your habits. You could also have a banana “shake” using almond milk, a dash of cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla extract for a treat will satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free.

The Pasta and Bread Swap. And of course, there’s the staple items you’ve always eaten with every meal because that’s what you’re used to. Rice, pasta, bread, even cereal…these are all high-carb foods that will derail your efforts if you eat them too often. Luckily, there are swaps you can make that will fill you up while still being wholly satisfying. Cauliflower is a great way to make pizza crust, breadsticks, mashed “potatoes,” and rice. Using a spiralizer will help you make noodles out of vegetables that taste amazing too.

Now that you’ve gotten some ideas on how to tackle those carb cravings — arm yourself with these ingredients in your kitchen at all times, so these swaps become second nature.

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Theresa Sailor

Integrative Lifestyle Coach

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